This is my first newsletter of 2020 and I want to start by again thanking
people for their support and giving me the honour of representing Brighton
Pavilion in Parliament. We face a very challenging year with our probable
departure from the EU on January 31st and the negotiations over our future
relationship with the EU. On top of that are the myriad of national and
local issues that I know are so important to you: the NHS, school funding,
housing, transport and of course the climate emergency.
BREXIT & PARLIAMENT
The Government is rushing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament
at breakneck speed. I spoke several times in the debate, raising a number
of issues. First and foremost, the lack of scrutiny. MPs are being shut out
of the process in what amounts to an executive power-grab by Number 10. I
wrote about this for The Independent, you can read it here . I had
tabled an amendment to improve oversight but, with a Conservative majority
of 80, understandably it failed. It seems extraordinary that MPs would vote
to give themselves less power and less oversight, but that's exactly what
happened. One wonders why they wanted to become MPs. You can listen to part
of my closing speech in the debate here .
I also raised the removal of any environmental protections from the Bill.
We saw the true colours of a nationalist, hard-right Conservative party
when Tory MPs dutifully trooped through the No lobbies to vote against
protecting the right of unaccompanied child refugees to join families in
the UK after Brexit. Words fail me at the inhumanity. I'm glad to see that
Alf Dubs in the House of Lords is trying to restore this right.
BREXIT & BRIGHTON
In the meantime, I am meeting and speaking to many in the constituency
about our imminent departure from the EU. Brexit has raised real concerns
among businesses and public services like the NHS, because of the possible
impact on recruitment and on the local economy.
Our city's digital sector faces particular challenges over data sharing,
and our tourism and leisure sector is hugely dependent on EU nationals
working here. A number of EU nationals living in the city are still
struggling to obtain the settled status to which they're entitled. I'll be
doing all I can with others to mitigate the worst impacts of Brexit on our
city and its residents.
FOOD, FARMING & CLIMATE
I gave a speech to the Oxford Real Farming Conference  about farming's
role in tackling the climate emergency and the need to move towards
agroecology. Any new payment system which replaces the EU's CAP must
incentivize farmers to work with nature, not against it, and enable and
ultimately require farming and land management to restore the health of the
soil and maximise carbon storage.
It's encouraging that so many farming organisations are supporting the
"less and better" campaign run by the Eating Better coalition, which is
pushing for a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030. "Less
and better" meat and dairy must be a pro-farmer and pro-farming position.
The speech, incidentally, had to be delivered by video as I was speaking in
the debate on Brexit at the time.
The terrible bushfires in Australia have been shocking to watch. Some of
that shock turns to anger over the Australian government's refusal to
recognise the role of the climate crisis in driving the fires and its
continued support for the coal industry. I wrote about this for Metro ,
and also raised it during the Government statement on the fires in the
House of Commons. Astonishingly, it made no mention of climate - a fact I
pointed out to the Foreign Office minister.
I was struck by a decision of the Scottish Government this week give local
authorities in Scotland powers to regulate short-term lets like Airbnb if
this is in the interest of their local community. This is clearly a power
that councils in England should have too, particularly in Brighton and Hove
where it's estimated that about 2,000 homes have been lost to the private
rented sector and turned into short-term holiday lets. Tourism is vital to
the city's economy but the needs of the tourist industry have to balanced
with those of local residents and the best way of striking that balance is
with local control, perhaps by imposing a cap on the number of days a home
can be offered for a short-term let. There also has to be a level playing
field with the more regulated hotels and B&Bs which are being undercut. I
have tabled a question to the Secretary of State asking him to take steps
to help councils planning to impose a cap, to implement it.
I met some of the WASPI women who, like thousands across the country, are
fighting against the injustice in their state pensions. I will continue to
support them with their ongoing campaign for justice not only for
themselves but for future generations.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE "HERE"
I visited the offices of HERE in Preston Road (which used to be known as
the Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Service), an organisation run by GPs,
primary care nurses, practice managers and others to deliver the best
possible individual care while improving the overall standard of care. We
talked about the impact of underfunding on mental health services, and the
care culture around mental health - it's too often fragmented between
different service providers and not sufficiently joined up and innovative.
GREEN ORIGINALS ON RADIO 4
R4 listeners may have heard the programme on Petra Kelly, one of my heroes,
which I presented as part of the series on Green Originals. She was an
inspiring, fearless German Green MP in the 1980s who was tragically
murdered at the age of 44. She saw green politics as combining
parliamentary politics with what happened on the streets, embracing
non-violent protest and direct action. So her legacy lives on. If you
didn't catch the programme, you can listen to it here. 
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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